Monday, March 13, 2017

Getting Away from the Luxury Highway Touring with a Houseboat

In discussion of tiny houses, words such as cute, quaint, charming, etc pop up frequently but we don't give any kind of a damn about such words when we're freezing our butts in the Winter.  The residence, whether it's stationery or floats, needs to truly handle the four seasons and after that we can talk about cuteness (but we probably won't).

Before you click out in disgust because of another tour of refrigerators and toilets, keep in mind it's a young blondie girl who lives in this thing.  She and friends built it.

The roof can collapse for transportation overland and it does have a motor for driving it about lakes.

While the houseboat is eminently cool, this one is lacking in even more ways than the narrow boat I reviewed previously.  (Ithaka:  Luxury Highway Touring ... on the Water)

As with the narrow boat, the energetics are primitive insofar as any energy solutions are ad hoc rather than permanent installations.  For example, a battery provides electricity but there is no solar.  Heat comes from a wood-burning stove.

Those liabilities are noted but they don't destroy the project since may not be finished with it.  We can see the roof of it is used for sunning and hanging out but the slanted part can't be used for that.  OK, cover that bit with solar panels to drive general electrics plus to recharge storage batteries.  Let's say that costs a couple of grand and you don't want to spend it but the result is non-billable energy for an indefinite time.  High value.

Getting enough juice for air conditioning, heating, etc won't work without a major upgrade to electrics and that one becomes a question of what's worth it.  You're on a river anyway so how much do you really need air conditioning when likely a breeze will be blowing most of the time.

Since the place is so small, what do you say to heating it with propane.  Sure the stuff blows up real good but I'm assuming you will be careful with it.  I don't know the arithmetic on that but it seems a possibility and a huge advantage is it burns clean.

I didn't hear mention of any water tanks and they're vital to prevent a situation of water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.  That upgrade is probably not terribly expensive either and likely wouldn't be so terrible to install.  Since we just pull numbers out of the air, let's allocate a couple of grand for that as well.

The boat raises big questions about security since there isn't any.  The safest you would get with this boat is to take it to the middle of the lake while you sleep but that's just a tad awkward.  Maybe security isn't so important for you but try it for size when you're an attractive young blondie girl living alone.  I guarantee you will think of security.

The general take on this one is cool with possibilities.  It's kind of cool now but could be radically cool with various improvements.

As you will discover below, this houseboat isn't intended solely for one person and it's available for rent.

In this video, we meet Bonnie from Wakefield, Québec, Canada who is living on a gorgeous tiny house boat that is full of character and charm. The River Den (or La Tannière) has custom-made asymmetrical windows, a classic ship's wheel, antique fireplace, and hand-built furniture — all of which give the boat a warm and cozy feel that makes you feel at home as soon as you step on board. The boat is docked on the shore of the Gatineau River and Bonnie lives in it as often as she can when she's not renting it out on Airbnb ( 

The tiny houseboat was designed by Bonnie and her boatbuilding friend, Denis Tremblay, who is known locally as the Wakefield Pirate. Denis and a few of his friends built the boat by hand, including the aluminum frame and the custom windows, the cabinets, and the grill floor in the loft.

The boat is built on 5 pontoons that are designed to provide flotation while still taking on some water to keep the boat weighed down in the water for stability. The pontoons are also designed to freeze in the ice and are made by a local company called Les Quais Navigables (

It's a 4-season house boat that is fully insulated and has an antique wood burning fireplace to provide heat in winter. For power, they installed a deep cycle marine battery that provides 12-Volt power for the lights, bilge pump, and navigation lights. They have a Separett composting toilet from Sweden (, and a sink that pumps water from the river for washing dishes. For refrigeration, Bonnie uses a cooler with ice, but she might invest in some solar panels so that she can power a proper fridge eventually.

The main floor has a kitchen, toilet, dining room and living room, and upstairs there is cozy a sleeping loft with a grill floor that allows heat to rise through the floor, and sun & dust to travel down to the main level. One of the windows in the loft opens up onto a gorgeous rooftop patio with a cedar deck and has space for some solar panels if/when Bonnie decides she needs them.

The boat has a gas motor and can be taken out on the river which is quite impressive considering it's size! To make sure the boat was still road worthy, they built a wedge roof over the loft that can be taken apart if Bonnie wants to transport it to a different location. The boat is currently docked in the quaint little town of Wakefield, Québec where there are cute cafes, restaurants and shops right across the street.

If anyone is interested in renting this house boat, check it out on the Airbnb website here:

- YouTube

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